June 17, 2014

So, you draw stuff for a living?

No, not really. It’s a common question and a tough one to answer. What does a graphic designer do? Webster’s defines graphic design as “the art or profession of using design elements (as typography and images) to convey information or create an effect.”

To understand what graphic design is, think about how it affects your life. Just open your kitchen cupboard, your medicine cabinet or your latest issue of (insert popular magazine here). Someone has designed almost everything you touch every day: the label on the cup of soup you have at lunch, the billboard you pass every day on your way to work, even the print on the toilet paper you use to — well, you know. Yep, that is someone’s job.  

“So, you drew that guy on the label?” Nope. While some designers are illustrators also, I used an illustration that someone else prepared and I created the layout for the label. “Huh?” I chose a typeface. I made the illustration interact with the type in a pleasing manner. I created visual organization. You may think that’s not too tough. You may think it’s kind of silly. But wait until you see it done poorly.

I’m a sucker for good design and packaging. (It’s the reason I have an excessive amount of lip gloss.) It’s the aesthetic that sells me. One tube of generic lip balm may have the exact same ingredients as a fancier brand, but I want the fancier brand. Look at it — it’s so sleek and pretty and eye-catching. The design gets me every time.

Everything you buy that has a brand to it has been carefully designed. Someone took the time to pick each color carefully. He or she probably also spent an incredible amount of time creating a logo and a look that is specific to that brand.

The next time you’re at the grocery store and think, wow, this can of mixed vegetables looks great, stop and ask yourself why. Is it the ingredients or did someone do an awesome job of selling it to you?

Comic-themed infographic for the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters
Comic-themed infographic for the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters